Review: Fiery Edge of Steel by Jill Archer

Fiery Edge of SteelThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

(Description nicked from B&

“Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, along with a lack of control and a reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider among her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.

When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task that will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined.”

This is the second book in the Noon Onyx series, and I was able to read both this book and its predecessor one right after the other.  I found both books to be enjoyable, with interesting mysteries and a compelling setting.  I also noticed some similar writing tactics that contributed to making the stories feel somewhat identical.

For one thing, even though the first novel dealt with the burgeoning love triangle of Noon and two men, this second book starts the same thing all over again.  Noon’s boyfriend Ari is still around, but the Angel in question has changed to the aforementioned Rafe Sinclair.  He, like Peter in the original story, is in a position of power over Noon: where Peter had the power to change her magic from waning to waxing, Rafe is Noon’s protector in dangerous situations.  Both books also have a long buildup to a problem that solves itself rapidly and explosively, and both involve Noon finding answers to questions that have endured for thousands of years.

None of these things are really bad in and of themselves.  The details of the individual plots are interesting enough to hold your attention, and the worldbuilding is still one of the most intriguing aspects of this series.  Once the plot really got going, Fiery Edge of Steel kept me focused on it until the last page.

But that phrase “once the plot really got going” is the catch here.  What you see in the book description is accurate, but it doesn’t happen until the last third of the book.  Up to that point, what you get is a lot of preparation, and a whole lot of travelling.  Granted, there are bits of info scattered throughout these pages, and there are some adventurous things that happen, but the meat of the plot is slow to arrive.  I kind of wish that Archer had made the first two novels into one book and really cut out the fat from the narrative.  There are some great ideas and images in this series, and although you’ll certainly notice them, I think they may have shone even brighter with less padding around them.

Despite a few complaints from me, and despite a slow start, I did end up enjoying Fiery Edge of Steel.  I’ll probably only recommend this to the urban fantasy readers who like heavy romance aspects or don’t mind a more leisurely pace in their fiction.  For the right reader, this series might strike a chord and be very entertaining.